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It Doesn’t Get Better in Russia: Gay Teen Sent Into Rehab for Coming Out

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Thursday Apr 26, 2012
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A Russian teen was sent to a drug clinic by his "irate traditionalist" father after he told him that he was gay, the Russian newspaper Ria Novosti reported.

Ivan Kharchenko, who lives Moscow, publically came out of the closet when he turned 16 earlier this year. His father placed the teen in rehab for 12 days before friends and supporters broke him out the facility. One of his backers was the Russian human rights activist, Dmitry Aleshkovsky.

Kharchenko’s classmates were not surprised by the boy’s announcement, the newspaper points out, but his family was crushed. His grandmother tricked the teen into seeing a "witch" who failed to "exorcize the spirit of homosexuality" out of him.

After the bizarre attempt to make Kharchenko heterosexual his father forced the boy, allegedly against his will, to enter a drug clinic.

"I’d rather have you disabled or a vegetable than gay," the Kharchenko’s father told local media.

His lawyer Violetta Volkova told the media that the formal reason for sending the teenager into rehab was alleged drug and alcohol abuse but officials could not confirm the allegations. The lawyer also said that the boy was so drugged by the clinic that he could not remember the names of some of his friends. He did manage, however, to put up a sign on his window that said, "I love you" to his boyfriend.

Aleshkovsky led the campaign to free Kharchenko and said that the sending the teen to rehab against his will could be considered kidnapping. Kharchenko is now staying with his mother who had no problem with his being gay.

Police are currently investigating how he was placed in rehab.

The incident follows a recent ruling in St. Petersburg, Russia, where a judge cleared a straight married man from being charged under the city’s controversial "homosexual propaganda law."

The law fines people up to $17,000 for the "promotion of homosexuality" and "pedophilia among minors."

Two weeks ago, Sergey Kondrashov, a married heterosexual attorney, was arrested for holding a sign that said, "A dear family friend is lesbian. My wife and I love and respect her ... and her family is just as equal as ours." A judge, however, said there was a lack of evidence in protocol to charge him with the city’s anti-gay law.

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